How it all started

Welcome to Matt’s Astronomy Website. My name is Matthew Cook, I live in Somerset, UK. I have had an interest in the stars since an early age but had never ‘taken the plunge’ and got myself a telescope until 2005 when I got an Evostar 120/1000 refractor. After beginning to think I may have spent too much money on myself, a clear night arrived to save the day. With the moon being the most obvious thing to look at first, I wasted no time. It was at crescent phase shortly after sunset. I could not believe my eyes! What a sight. Seeing the immense craters and also strange flat surfaces on the Moon at such magnification was fantastic.

The next most obvious object was bright Jupiter in an ideal position. This was the most awe-inspiring moment of my interest in astronomy. To instantly recognise a planet with your own eyes is totally unforgettable. The various cloud bands could be seen and 4 of the Jovian moons easily spotted. Afterwards, I pointed the scope to bright star called Vega then another called Arcturus. I quickly learned that stars still only look like a point of light in telescopes, however different colours begin to show.

The next notable viewing I had with the scope was one that will stay with me forever. It was a planet, just outside of twilight at the time low in the West. Still, it was there in all its glory. The planet I’m talking about is Saturn. I could now understand why amateur astronomers rant and rave about this sight more than any. Saturn’s rings are unmistakable and beautiful. I could hear myself gasping at the sight of a planet that I have seen a million times in magazines, posters, movies, you name it. However finding it and viewing it yourself through your own eyepiece in your own backyard tops most experiences I have had.

The imaging learning curve

The next few months of 2005 were spent learning the sky and viewing some of the easier deep sky objects. I even had a go at photographing the moon through the eyepiece with my compact digital camera via eyepiece projection. 2006 saw the continued growth of this website with my first webcam stacked images of planets and more close-up moon shots using Registax software for processing. My first deep sky object photographs finally came about in May 2006 after an astronomy holiday in North Devon. The 2006 summer skies brought back familiar memories of when I first had the scope only this time I knew where to look.

2007 saw the arrival of the Canon 400D DSLR camera which opened up a whole new world of night sky imaging such as stacked multiple exposures. The year itself produced quite a few great astronomical events to practice my imaging on. Now more recently using a modded Canon 1000D and a guiding setup, guiding adds quite a few more technological and practical hurdles to get your head around, but I’ve found the added exposure times are more than worth the time and effort. I am now at the point of mastering deep sky stacked images with quality only being hindered by exposure time limits and my post processing skills!

More details can be found on the equipment and how I image deep sky page.